10 Lightroom tips for Beginners – The Lightroom Develop Module

Long exposure night

Edit Faster and Better

My 10 Lightroom Tips for Beginners will help you to improve the overall look of your photos. These tips will enable you to edit faster and better when using The Lightroom Develop Module.

This article is a follow on from my How to use the Adobe Lightroom Library Module article. That article is more focused on how to organise, categorize, sort, and store your images.

In this article I’m going to give you some tips and tricks to help you to use The Lightroom Develop Module. My 10 Lightroom Tips for Beginners will make your overall experience of using Lightroom more seamless and enjoyable.

I’m not going to talk about what each slider does, simply move them around to figure that out. Instead my 10 Lightroom Tips for Beginners will focus on things you can do to make life easier when using the Lightroom Develop Module.

Adobe Lightroom is available for different devices

A Quick Word on Over Editing

Over editing is a mistake that a lot beginners make and even more experienced photographers. Over editing easily done as we are amazed by the awesome tools we have at are finger tips to transform the look of our images.

The way editing should be done is you fine tune an image. You put the icing on the cake where image is the cake and the editing is the icing, the editing should never be the cake. Therefore you are looking to take an image and make it better, not completely change it. It is obvious when someone has over edited an image and it doesn’t look good.

You should aim for an editing process where you are improving your images but when people look at them they don’t notice the editing. To do this you make minor adjustments and then move on. For example, push the contrast up a little and move onto other adjustments. Then you can always go back and push it up more again later if you feel it needs it.

Another way to avoid over editing is to leave the image for a few days once completed rather than immediately publish it. You will be amazed at the amount of times you see something that needs improving or changing after viewing it again, something that you didn’t see first time.

1. Increase the size of the slider bar area

To help you realize the effect you are having when you move the slider I would recommend you drag out the slider bar on the right to make it appear wider. You do this in Lightroom by clicking and dragging this area to the left. This just gives you a little bit more control and only needs doing once.

2. Use a Mouse

You are have far more control when editing with a mouse compared to a touch-pad. I edited my images for about 2 years using a touch pad just because I never really got around to buying a mouse. I have to say there is a big difference in the ease of use and overall control when using a mouse. These days you can get a good Wireless or Bluetooth mouse for a reasonable price. If you edit images regularly it will certainly be a worthwhile investment.

3. Use the Lightroom White Balance Dropper and Lightroom Auto Tone tools

If your new to Lightroom then you should get used to setting the White Balance (WB) as the first thing you do in your editing process. The most efficient and effective way to do this in Lightroom is by clicking on the Lightroom White Balance Dropper tool. Then look for a mid-grey tone in your image and click on it with the Lightroom White Balance Dropper tool selected. I find this usually does a very good job first time but if you are not completely happy you can make further adjustments with the sliders.

The Lightroom Auto Tone sometimes gets criticized but I find it to be quite a useful alternative. If you can’t find a mid-grey tone in your image then use the Lightroom Auto Tone. Use this as a starting point for setting the WB and then use your eye to fine tune the setting until it is to your liking.

4. Use the Lightroom clipping indicators

Clipping can easily be dealt within Lightroom. This is where the image is so bright or dark in certain areas that it has been blown out. Therefore you want avoid any clipping in your images.

To deal with this click the Lightroom clipping indicators (arrows) in the top left of the histogram. Now the dark clipping will appear blue in the image and the bright clipping will appear in red. To check it is working correctly push the Whites slider up and Blacks slider down. With the Lightroom clipping indicators selected make sure the exposure is set within the histogram, and no red or blue areas appear in the image.

5. Use the Lightroom Crop Overlay

The Lightroom Crop Overlay tool is another really cool and helpful feature of Lightroom. There are different Lightroom Crop Overlays according to different rules of composition. For example, the 3 vertical and horizontal squares enable you view your image according to the Rule of Thirds.

To access the Lightroom Crop Overlay tool hit R on your keyboard to crop and the hit O to see the overlay. From here you can continue to hit O to see different overlays.

6. Use the Lightroom Straighten Tool for a perfectly straight horizon

The Straighten and Angle tools are also accessible once you have hit R to crop the image. There are different ways to straighten an image in The Lightroom Develop Module . Firstly, you can hover over the corner of the image and move the arrows to straighten.

The second way is to use the angle slider to adjust the angle of the image. I find this to be the least useful method.

Finally you can use the Lightroom Straighten Tool. To enable the Lightroom Straighten Tool, click on the ruler next to the angle slider. Then find a straight line in your image, or the part of the image that you want to be straight. For example, if it is a landscape photo you may want the horizon to be straight. Now drag the line across the image in the appropriate place and Lightroom will adjust it to be straight for the line that you have drawn. In my opinion the Lightroom Straighten Tool is one of the coolest and most useful features in The Lightroom Develop Module.

7. Changing you mind and rolling back

As previously mentioned you should be careful when it comes to over editing. At some point you may realise you have done too much or you may just not like some of the editing you did to the image. Luckily Lightroom makes it really easy to go back to any point in the process or all the way back to the start.

If you are unhappy with one particular element of the image then you can quickly reset any one slider by double clicking on the title writing next to the slider. For example, you are unhappy with the changes made to the shadows, double click on the word ‘shadows’ and it will reset it to zero. The same applies to all sliders.

If you would like to go back to a particular point in the editing process use the History drop-down in the left hand Panel. For example, if you were unhappy with the last 3 edits you made just click on the fourth one down to go back to that point in time.

If you’re unhappy with everything and want to start again you can hit Reset at the bottom right of your screen.

8. Use Lightroom Star Rating

Sorting and organising your images is a big part of Lightroom and it provides many features for this. To find out about using The Lightroom Catalog, Collections, Collection Sets, and more click here.

Within The Lightroom Develop Module you can quickly choose which images you like, and which ones you no longer want through the Lightroom Flags and Rejects concept. Select the image and hit ‘P’ to choose an image as a pick. To view the picked images click on Filters at the bottom and select ‘Flagged’. Select the image and hit ‘X’ to reject an image. To remove rejected images go to Photo – Delete Rejected Photos (Ctr – backspace).

Through Lightroom Star Rating you can give your photos Star Ratings 1 – 5 by hitting the corresponding numbers on your keypad when scrolling through the image slides at the bottom. What makes this feature cool is that each Lightroom Star Rating has a corresponding Lightroom Collection Set so you can easily view your good and bad images in the corresponding collections.

9. Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts

It is worth using Lightroom keyboard shortcuts as they make life easier and faster. Soon enough you will have memorised them and will wonder why you used Lightroom for so long without Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts! There are many Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts, but here are some of the most useful:

(Backslash) – Before and After – Shows the image before and after edits

R – Crop Tool

Shift + Tab – Hide All Panels

O – Show/Hide Mask Overlay (crop first)

F – Full Screen Mode – Shows the image in full screen and removes the Lightroom interface

[ / ] – Increase or decrease the brush tool

Ctrl + – Ctrl – Zoom in or out

Ctrl E – Edit in Photoshop

10. Turn the lights out

Adobe Lightroom is available for different devices

Admittedly this one isn’t the most useful of my Lightroom tips for Beginners. Having said that you put in all the work so you deserve to indulge yourself.

When you have finished your editing you will want to view the photo in all its glory. Hit the L key on your keyboard and The Lightroom Develop Module will dim the lights, hit it again to to completely turn the lights out, and again to go back. At this point you can also hit the / key to see the image before and after. Enjoy your magnificent work!

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